DAO 69:1-7 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/dao069001

Status and progress in coral reef disease research

Ernesto Weil1,*, Garriet Smith2, Diego L. Gil-Agudelo3

1Department of Marine Sciences, University of Puerto Rico, PO Box 3208, Lajas, Puerto Rico 00667
2Department of Biology and Geology, University of South Carolina Aiken, Aiken, South Carolina 29801, USA
3Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras INVEMAR, Cerro Punto de Betín, Zona Portuaria, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

ABSTRACT: Recent findings on the ecology, etiology and pathology of coral pathogens, host resistance mechanisms, previously unknown disease/syndromes and the global nature of coral reef diseases have increased our concern about the health and future of coral reef communities. Much of what has been discovered in the past 4 years is presented in this special issue. Among the significant findings, the role that various Vibrio species play in coral disease and health, the composition of the ‘normal microbiota’ of corals, and the possible role of viruses in the disease process are important additions to our knowledge. New information concerning disease resistance and vectors, variation in pathogen composition for both fungal diseases of gorgonians and black band disease across oceans, environmental effects on disease susceptibility and resistance, and temporal and spatial disease variations among different coral species is presented in a number of papers. While the Caribbean may still be the ‘disease hot spot’ for coral reefs, it is now clear that diseases of coral reef organisms have become a global threat to coral reefs and a major cause of reef deterioration.

KEY WORDS: Coral reef · Disease · Caribbean · Global threat · Reef deterioration · Vibrio · Disease resistance · Disease vectors

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